Truro Cathedral was full on Maundy Thursday for the annual Chrism Eucharist.

Over 500 people were welcomed into the cathedral for the service, which is part of the Church’s Easter celebrations.

This year saw a break from the normal traditions with a special presentation to Canon Stephen Dawes, the Canon Theologian, who is retiring after 11 years in post.

The Rt Revd Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro, told those present: “Stephen’s presence has been extraordinary. He has played a part in challenging, encouraging and supporting people in many ways from his roles with the South West Ministerial Training College and Reader Training to the Windows Into courses which have been an extraordinary gift to us. I am really grateful to you Stephen for being a presence.”

Among others paying tribute to Stephen was Revd Canon Jane Kneebone. She said: “Stephen is responsible for many of us standing here today. His support, encouragement and passion will always be treasured and never forgotten.”

Revd Canon Alan Bashforth told the congregation: “Stephen has played a significant part in my faith as he has for many people here. Perhaps the most important aspect of all he has done has been his passion to educate the laity in their discipleship. To make it something talked about and properly argued about in pews. We wish Stephen and Margaret well in their second, and this time, real retirement.”

Stephen, who was asked to take on the role by the previous Bishop, the Rt Revd Bill Ind, received numerous gifts. He told those present: “I am humbled by everything that has just happened and all the good wishes we have received from everyone over the last few weeks.

“There are things about Cornwall that I will not miss and there are parts of its life that I wear as a permanent scar on my soul! But one of the things I will go away with is huge gratitude for the memories. When making me Canon Theologian, Bishop Bill told me to make it up as I go along, in so doing I have been helped and supported all along and I am part of a team.

“I simply say thank you and may the Lord bless you all.”

In one of his last official duties, Stephen took one of the readings for the Chrism Eucharist as did Esther Pollard, Diocesan Secretary.

The service also included the renewal of ordination vows by the Priests of the diocese and the Deacons. Following this, the clergy were joined by the congregation in committing themselves to a life of Christian discipleship.

Bishop Tim gave the sermon concentrating on the theme of words, their meaning and how as humans we each bring our own unique perspective to them. The Bishop had earlier asked those present to pray for all affected by the terrorist activities in Belgium and for Father Tom, who has been held captive in Yemen by ISIS, which is threatening to crucify him on Good Friday.

The service drew to a close with the whole congregation being invited to take Communion.